Augmented Reality

What is Augmented Reality?

        Augmented reality is a relatively new field of technology that has limitless possibilities in the future. Augmented reality, or AR, is the blending of the virtual world and the real world in a combined dimensional perspective. This means that the user of augmented reality sees virtual and real objects in the same plane of view. An example of such would be superimposing virtual images into the real world like holograms. These examples would utilize specialized lights and sensors to create a 3D image in real space. Another example of augmented reality would be imposing virtual effects or objects onto real landscapes captured by a camera. Despite being heavily prevalent in the world today, augmented reality is commonly mistaken for its counterpart virtual reality (VR), but the two have distinct differences. This is because a user using augmented can distinctively know which objects they are viewing are virtual, while a user with VR cannot. So, this important detail about augmented reality opens up a unique set of opportunities that developers and companies can utilize for many commercial, educational, recreational, and research uses.

The Uses

Recreational Uses

         Augmented reality has been pioneered recently for use in the gaming industry. For example, a popular use of augmented reality was the recently released game called Pokemon Go. Pokemon Go utilizes augmented reality by using the camera to take a real-time video of where the phone is pointing and then add a virtual creature in the video called a Pokemon. So, the player can move around their camera and see the Pokemon imposed into the real world on their phone. This thus creates the image of Pokemon being in the real world. For an example, the picture to the right shows one such player who has Horsea, a Pokemon, being displayed on the phone as if it were actually standing on the ground. To pair with augmented reality, Pokemon Go also uses a geographic servers that fix the Pokemon's position. This means that the Pokemon will stay in that spot, even leaving the field of view of the phone's camera if moved. Using this technology and the brand of Pokemon, Pokemon Go has become the largest mobile game, once attracting nearly 21 million daily users.


        Another example of augmented reality in recreational uses can be found in football games. This is seen with the 1st and Ten Graphics System, the series of virtual lines that help guide viewers on the progress of the game. This little detail is essential to one of the largest televised sports in the world by showing the progression of a team's first down line and line of scrimmage, and makes the interface of the screen more enjoyable. As a result, football has grown much larger because viewers are given a visual to measure how well a team is doing, as well as providing clarity to newcomers to football or those inexperienced with the rules of football. Not to mention, augmented reality has been implemented into various sightseeing applications. These applications impose guidelines to specific tourists spots, restaurants, and stores on a phone screen. This aids in tourist activities and sightseeing. Thus, augmented reality has been seen to be used to great effect in recreational uses like gaming and television and will continue to be used to revolutionize modern entertainment and recreational activities.

Commercial Uses

        Augmented reality also assists businesses in many ways that go unknown to people. A prominent example would be in the clothing and furniture industry. For example, a certain pattern or style can be placed on a person without actually creating the correct sizings for the fitting. As a result, the consumer can contemplate whether they like the style or not, and then have that style to be tailor-made into the correct sizing for them. This would thus boost the sales of the clothing industry because consumers will be more likely to by custom outfits that they have a preference for. A similar process can also be used in the furniture and interior design industry. This is seen in how furniture can be imposed in a house, or a specific design can be placed on the insides of a house – all without moving any pieces of furniture or painting anything. This is done by having specific markers that would direct a camera to place the product in a specific area, similar to the boundaries set by a phone when scanning an QR code. This would thus promote business because consumers are more likely to buy furniture after modeling them into the house or buy clothing after trying it on using augmented reality.

        Furthermore, augmented reality allows for faster construction of complex projects like buildings and bridges. This is because although it is now possible to make complex 3D designs of buildings on a computer, when working on site, old-fashioned blueprints are frequently used out of convenience. This increases the time it takes to construct the building because builders must frequently refer to the blueprints during construction. With augmented reality, the builders will be able to superimpose an image of the building onto the site and see where progress must be made. Therefore, instead of referring to a 2D blueprint for construction, workers are able to directly see where materials must be placed and how they should be connected. This will dramatically lower construction times as less instructions are needed if a visual of the complete 3D model is already being superimposed via a phone or camera. As a result, there would be a positive effect on the economy because infrastructure can be built quicker and for less.

Educational Uses

        Finally, augmented reality can be used for educational purposes in high school and in institutes of higher education. This is seen as augmented reality can create realistic virtual images in real life. So, 3D models of problems can be made to aid visual learners about concepts like physics and chemistry. An example of this can be superimposing images of molecules like water or carbon dioxide. Using these imposed models, students can have a greater range of perspective and understanding than the current molecule models made from wood. This can also apply in the field of physics by providing a visual simulation of certain concepts like rotational inertia to students. In these simulations, students can then change different variables and see how these variables affect the simulation. Thus, simulations using augmented reality can bolster the understanding of difficult subjects like chemistry and physics.

        Augmented reality also can serve a use in higher educational systems. This is because colleges can use augmented reality to teach specific skills that require particular simulations or materials. For example, surgeons in medical schools currently utilize models of humans in order to perfect the craft of operating on a patient. Due to the nature of their professions, surgeons must practice an incredible amount of hours in order to be licensed. However, this requires a lot of models to be used for practice as a result. To quicken this process, upcoming surgeons can use augmented reality to practice the process of a surgery first, and then use a real model to practice the motions. This use of augmented reality can be used in many places, thus increasing the availability of practice for these new surgeons. As a result, surgeons can practice more often and become more skilled in the operating room. Thus, augmented reality has a plethora of uses in education.

Research Uses

        Finally, augmented reality can be used in research around the world in many ways. For example, archaeologists can use augmented reality by superimposing a hypothetical 3D model of an area when excavating. This allows them to picture the excavation site and would give a sense of the boundaries that they have when excavating. This could be incredibly helpful in excavations like old fossils because 3D models can be made from fragments of partially excavated pieces of the fossil. From there, a supposed outline of the fossil can be made to show a general outline of the find and speed up the process of the excavation.

        Augmented reality can also become useful in providing scale for researchers. This is because augmented reality can impose any 3D model based on the program used. So, augmented reality can be used to impose objects that are not available or even animals that are extinct. This would rid the need for a tangible 3D model because the object can be imposed using a phone. An example of this would be a entomologist that needs to compare the sizes of two different species of beetles, but only does not have both species available at that moment. In addition to traditional measurements, augmented reality can superimpose the beetle in real space to give a visual representation of size and features. Thus, augmented reality can be used to compare objects in a visual space, even if the object is not there or is unavailable.

The Concerns

        Despite all the positive about augmented reality, there are some concerns about the new technology. One such concern is the increase in potential distractions when using augmented reality. This is because games like Pokemon Go have many accidents because people do not pay attention to their surroundings when playing the game. As a result, several people have gotten injured from playing Pokemon Go and its augmented reality function by walking into walls, walking into busy streets, or falling into ditches and holes. This potential for distraction can also occur in other uses of augmented reality outside of phones. For example, the Google Glasses were capable of projecting a text box or an image into one's field of view. Combined with activities like driving, this form of augmented reality could severely injure someone. As such, augmented reality has become a controversial topic in the safety of people. In fact, the degree of controversy escalated to the point where Google discontinued the project of the Google Glasses. Thus, augmented reality has real implications in terms of distractions because people can become injured as a result of being distracted while doing other activities.

        Furthermore, augmented reality has allowed for users to easily alter appearances and images through various photo applications. For example, Snapchat, a popular social media platform where people can exchange timed pictures, uses augmented reality in filters on the pictures it takes. These filters can impose wreaths of flowers on a person's face to enlarging certain features of the face. While this can be harmless in most practices, the filters option makes it easier for people to bully other people on social media. This is because there are certain filters on Snapchat that can distort a person's face greatly, and Snapchat has improved their face recognition software to the point where it can nearly instantly impose that distortion. As a result, people with malicious intent can utilize the augmented reality made by Snapchat to easily altering someone's face and then sending it to others. Thus, the ubiquity of augmented reality in social media platforms enables the potential for more social media bullying.

The Future

        The potential that augmented reality holds in our near future is limitless. This can be seen as augmented reality has already been used to display virtual objects in a manner that will optimize the productivity and convenience of mankind. Augmented reality can be utilized on different displays to provide information about anything and everything. The main focus of augmented reality is to improve the functionality and reliability of augmented reality systems. This is because augmented reality is in an early stage of development and controversy over the potential of distractions. However, by having a safeguard that prevents said distractions, such as a password for a device like the Google Glasses, augmented reality can shape the world into a blend of virtual and real. This world can be seen in how Microsoft is creating their own form of the Google Glasses called the Hololens. This augmented reality system is in the development phase, but has many backers and investors. As a result, Microsoft can create programs like a building a 3D virtual world in the real world because they are sponsored by Mojang. With such programs, augmented reality can become a necessity to architecture and entertainment.Another feature of augmented reality that could revolutionize the world would be the creation of holograms. While holograms exist today, they often are confined to restricted spaces and require intricate sensors and lighting. So, the use of holograms is limited to specialized areas that can impose the hologram. However, as technology becomes better, holograms can be used to reinforced the lessons in education in simulations like state above, and they could also be used in entertainment. Another use of holograms would be showing real-scale 3D models of animals, objects, and buildings. So, holograms can be used to study the scale of various objects or provide the guidelines to a new generation of architecture. Thus, augmented reality has an expansive future that can provide limitless uses and improve how society works today.